Sharing is Caring
Growing-up my younger Brother and I were always mistaken as twins being only 11 months apart, for the most part we were dressed similar, and always did things together- took piano lessons together, went to the same school, shared the same friends, watched the same TV shows, had the same favorite flavor of ice cream, etc. For the most part we got a long, and then we would have our bitter days of sibling rivalries where we didn't want to share toys, or dress the same, or we simply just got on each others nerves. Now, being a parent of two toddlers: a one year old and a two year old, I had pictured a sweeter, more pleasant relationship amongst my boys- was I wrong! Being only14 months apart my youngest follows big brother like a fly following the scent of a rotting fruit! If Spencer (one year old) had a toy truck, Skyler-Ian (two year old) had to have THAT specific truck! Thus began the "I don't want to share/ It's Mine!" phase. I had always looked for tips and tricks, even talked to my Pediatrician and other health professionals regarding tips and tricks. It all boiled down to the same answer "just let it be, they'll grow out of it." or "put them in day care, they teach that kind of stuff." For some reason, those answers didn't sit right in my with me. I am a stay-at-home Mom, I had to do something about it. As Parents we learn and grow with our children whether we have one child, or four! Each and everyday is a learning experience for each and everyone of us. I tested some things in which I felt would broaden their minds about sharing, caring, and fighting with manners. That's right I said fighting with manners. Confused a little? It's ok, I will explain.
What I have learned for the most part about sharing, or having two kids around the same age is to always provide the similar object for both. If I buy Skyler-Ian a red toy truck, I buy Spencer a red toy truck or the same truck in a different color. That way when it comes down to it, they both have the same object so when they "fight" over one toy, you explain that they both are the same toy, and if for example you come to a point where lets say Skyler-Ian wants the toy that Spencer is playing with, you bring your oldest to your youngest to share the toy and play with it together. (I don't know about you but, for sure my kids aren't angels, they throw tantrums and demand that the toy be taken away from the other and given to the whining child. That's not ok in my book.) I began the fighting with manners. Sometimes when little small talks such as "Skyler-Ian, Spencer had the toy first, let Spence play with this toy for another 5 more minutes after it will be your turn and you can have the toy." doesn't work, the tantrum proceeds. And, my oldest starts to irritate my youngest, by trying to steal the toy away. I explain to Skyler-Ian that he cannot steal objects from his little brother that if he will act the way he does he must use his manners. (introducing fighting with manners) as irritated as Skyler usually gets (because he isn't getting his way) he usually approaches Spencer (in a very bitter, bratty mood) and uses his manners to "fight" for the toy. We usually begin with "Please", "Spencer, can you please let me play with that toy?". More than likely Spencer always says "NO! MINE!". Thus brings another round of tantrums, and tears. I remind Skyler that throwing tantrums, and crying without using words won't get him the toy. I ask him if he would like to play with toy to please use his words, and to ask his brother nicely. Bringing in round two, we use the term "share", "Spencer, can you please share your toy with me?", by now, I have brought in other toys and showed that I (yes, sit and play with the "new" toys) was interested in these toys instead. Usually, toddlers attentions are easily distracted, and in most cases they'll leave the previous object to play with the object you have now shown interest in.
It is a very tedious task, but, I want to implement that they can't get everything they ask for, and for the most part, tantrums, whining, crying and screaming will not get them what they ask for. Most people I have talked to regarding tantrums say to leave the child alone and let them perform the tantrum, and they will realize that "it doesn't work". At the same time, I realized first hand, I'm giving my children that opportunity to act out, (sometimes even in public places), besides the fact its embarrassing, we should always teach our children how to behave. I know sometimes talking to them just irritates them more, because they can't say exactly what they want to say. Pretend to be in there shoes for a minute, pretend you are in a foreign country and you don't speak their language. Try interpreting something you want or need, and they just can't seem to understand. Children are impatient, and at a young age can't communicate that much. So as parents, we have to be understanding, patient, and diligent. When Skyler or Spencer throw a tantrum I kneel next to them and say "Skyler/Spencer, throwing a tantrum/crying/whining (whichever it may be) will not get you what you want. Please use your words or show me what you want or need." Usually, the tantrum still continues, and once I sit them up from their state of falling to the floor, arms, and legs kicking, add the screaming, and crying- they sit (still crying) and I ask, "Why are you crying?". My two year old usually answers with "because..", and thats it. (haha!), then I'll ask "because why? is there something you want or need? how can I help?", usually I'll stand him up and have him take me to what he wants or shows me what he means. Sometimes they don't know the exact words to tell you. Usually, if its because Spencer has stolen a toy out of his hands, I bring Skyler over to Spencer, and (yes) I explain to Spencer that its not nice to take toys from his friends and brother. I usually have Spencer give the toy back even if he cries, and I remind Skyler after 5 minutes that its Spencer's turn to play.
Its a redundant cycle, but, nonetheless, it has worked graciously with my children. Trust me, every night I pray for patience, guidance, and the strength to deal with things like this. At times I truly don't have the will power and become upset myself, and I don't want to "yell" at my children or "frighten" them. A great trick if none-of-these tips work is to separate the two kids in separate rooms, and give them space. Whether they're crying, throwing a tantrum. Sometimes they need the space to cool down, and get it out of their system. After they have somewhat calm down, approach them and talk about why they threw a tantrum, or why they were crying,and explain why using words or showing them can help. I hope that this blog has helped you or will help you! Shoot me a comment for any questions or comments =] xoxo